Sunday, December 27th, President Trump signed the COVID-19 Relief Bill that was passed under the Consolidated Appropriations Act on December 21st. The President had previously raised doubts about whether he would sign the massive legislation after, among other things, demanding larger direct payments. With no real prospects to increase payments and a fast approaching deadline, to avert a federal shutdown, the President decided to sign the funding and aid bill.
Major provisions of the bill include:
Note: We provided a more detailed analysis of some of the employment provisions of the bill on December 23, 2020 (see blog post “COVID-19 Relief under the Consolidated Appropriations Act”).
- Provides direct payments of $600 per person to many Americans.
- Reinstates emergency unemployment benefits with a $300 weekly enhanced benefit.
- Restarts the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allowing for a second forgivable loan to hard-hit businesses.
- Allows (but does not require) employers to continue providing paid leave for qualifying COVID-related absences, subject to the initial limits under the CARES Act.
- Allows employers to amend health and dependent care Flexible Spending Arrangement plans (FSA) to roll over unused 2020 funds to 2021.
We plan to hold webinars on the employment related provisions in the coming weeks when more guidance is available. Even seemingly clear legislation can sometimes lead to unexpected regulations, much will depend on initial guidance from the regulatory agencies (DOL, IRS, SBA, etc.).
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